Two vacant coaching positions at Davie County High School have been filled.
Perry Long has been tapped to lead the War Eagles’ wrestling team, replacing Buddy Lowery, who retired in June after a 43-year tenure. Morgan Wyatt will become the head coach of the softball program, taking over following the resignation of Dawn Lowery in May. Both hirings were announced Monday in posts by the athletics department’s Twitter account.
Neither Long nor Wyatt are new faces to their respective programs. Long was the head wrestling coach at South Davie Middle School for more than a decade before joining the War Eagles two years ago as an assistant coach. Wyatt, who is listed as the head coach of the War Eagles’ JV softball team and varsity assistant on the school’s website, attended Davie County from 2006 to 2010.
According to athletics director Mike Absher, both positions were offered internally within Davie County Schools and to coaches already present on team staffs. That move came after Dawn Lowery resigned, following a season-ending loss in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs to Cornelius Hough on May 7.
Absher said the coaching vacancies weren't coupled with teaching positions because openings were sparse. Long already works as an AID coordinator at the high school. Wyatt is a P.E. and health instructor at South Davie Middle.
And familiarity with the teams was certainly a plus.
"They're just very, very loyal and have worked hard for those programs," Absher said Tuesday morning. "You know, they were both highly qualified. We felt like they were both ready for the next step."
Long has coaching experience totaling about 24 years — that span included an NCHSAA Class 3-A dual-team title as an assistant at Monroe Sun Valley in 1993.
He takes over a program built by Buddy Lowery, who amassed a record of 913-136-2 and coached the War Eagles to the Class 4-A dual-team title in 1994 and 2006 and the Class 4-A state tournament championship in 1995. Under Buddy Lowery, the War Eagles had five second-place finishes at the state tournament and five more the dual-team playoffs.
Davie County also won the Central Piedmont 4-A championship 27 of the last 34 years.
And a chance to lead the War Eagles has been on Long's radar for quite some time — even cracking a joke or two with Buddy Lowery about that possibility.
"I've been wanting an opportunity for it, and I've said, 'Man, I'm not getting any younger.' Coach Lowery kept saying he was going to stay a couple more years, and I was like, 'Man, this guy's going to outlast me,'" Long said with a laugh. "I told him one day I was going to apply for this job ... When he stepped down I said, 'Well, here's my opportunity.'"
Wyatt, who is listed as the head coach of the War Eagles’ JV softball team and varsity assistant on the school’s website, attended Davie County from 2006 to 2010. She becomes the face of a program led by Dawn Lowery, who had a 83-46 record in five years.
Dawn Lowery, whose last name was Singleton when she graduated from Davie County in 2003, was the JV team’s head coach before being named the head coach of the varsity team.
And Wyatt was there for Dawn Lowery's start five years ago. She joined the War Eagles as an assistant in 2015, and the team finished 18-8 with just two losses in the Central Piedmont 4-A that season.
Their career paths with the War Eagles have been somewhat similar — both graduates of Davie County, who made a path through a JV pipeline to varsity.
And during Wyatt’s senior season with the War Eagles, she had 40 hits, 28 runs scored and 20 RBIs with a .476 batting average. Tack on 13 home runs over the course of her career as well.
She went on to become a catcher at Western Carolina for two seasons. Wyatt started a total of 67 games with the Catamounts before two shoulder surgeries marked an end to her career.
"Dawn Lowery reached out to me about coming on and helping with the JV program and with pitchers and catchers — that kind of thing — and it's stuck ever since," Wyatt said. "It's always great to be able to come back home and have an impact on the place that had an impact on me.
"It's always been a goal of mine the varsity-level, and then it's just the icing on top of the cake to do it back home where I'm from."